Saturday, November 26, 2005

Amazing what can happen in a year

A year ago my son was born.

I'll admit, when I first found out I was having a boy, I was a bit surprised. I had always pictured myself with two little girls. Not that I'm the frilly pink type, but I just had gotten used to the sweet conversations with my little girl, the quiet times when we snuggled on the couch reading books, having tea parties, and brushing each other's hair while creating fun hairstyles with barrettes and clips.

A little boy was something different. When I told people I was having a boy, they told me that it was wondeful. That little boys love their mommas so much. That they didn't have all of the drama that having a little girl can entail. That as long as we had a big back yard for them to run around and get out their aggression and energy, it would be fine.

I still worried. When he was born, all nearly-10 pounds of him, I looked into his puffy face (I had a c-section, but it still looked like he had been born normally because he was so jam-packed into me ... even the nurses couldn't believe that a 5-foot-2 woman could have a child so big) and fell in love. While I realized that he wasn't as dainty as my daughter, I also knew that he was mine and that I was blessed to have him.

The first few months were trying. He ate all the time. Not surprising considering his size. And he cried a lot. Much more so than his sister. He would only sleep at night if I let him sleep next to me in the bed, or if I rocked him to sleep and put him in his bassinet. Two things I never wanted to do, and never did with his sister, because I didn't want to set myself up for bad sleeping habits later.

But once he got into his crib two month later, things changed. When he was tired, I'd put him to bed with a pacifier and a flannel receiving blanket, and he'd be out in minutes. Even now, he won't fall asleep in the living room, or even if I try to rock him. He likes his space, his bed. It's interesting, because he won't sleep with the door open. And my daugher won't sleep with the door closed.

And he stopped crying. Of course, if he's hungry (which is still quite a bit), he'll whine, or if his sister takes his toy, he'll let out an angry yell, but he rarely cries for no reason. Even if he hurts himself, he'll shake himself off and move on. He's definitely all boy. He's into everything. He rolled over at three months, started crawling at six months. I assumed he'd be walking by nine months, and even though he's not, he has no trouble getting where he wants to go.

He is such an amazing little boy. His face lights up when I come home from work and he scrambled to come give me a hug. He climbs into my lap when I'm sitting on the floor and puts his head on my shoulder to cuddle. He likes to cuddle more than his sister does, and that's a lot.

I love seeing how much he's changed this year. He loves to dance, bobbing his head in time to the music, or bouncing up and down when he's holding onto the coffee table. He starting to babble more and more, trying out new sounds, and testing out the decibal level of his screams. And like his sister, he loves to 'read' books. I found him the other day in his sister's room, in the middle of the floor with one of her books in his lap, just turning the pages. He likes to try to draw like her, taking the crayons and capped-markers and tapping them on her easel. He loves music, playing with his cousin's toy piano, or beating this plastic drum with his drumsticks.

And he's not afraid of anything. His favorite game is to lay down on a giant pillow and have his daddy take him on a magic carpet ride throughout the house. He laughs and giggles and refuses to get off the pillow, even when his daddy is puffing and sweating on the floor after the fifth trip around the house.

Today we went for a ride, his first with the car seat forward. He had so much fun looking around, and I was able to turn around and see his smiling face.

He goes for his 1-year checkup next week. I can't wait to see how much he's grown. He outgrew his infant seat at 4 months, something that is supposed to last for a year. At nine months, he was three inches taller than his sister was at a year (and she's tall for her age, like her daddy).

He had his birthday party on Thanksgiving, his birthday. While he was a little tentative about the frosting on the cake at first, once he got his first taste, he went for it with gusto. He practically ate his whole little cake, and was covered in crumbs and frosting. Nothing could have been cuter. I'm looking forward to what the next year will bring.

My little boy. The one who I never imagined having in the beginning. The one who I can't imagine my life without now.

Friday, November 25, 2005

To the man who asked for the time

I was nice enough to give you the time when you asked for it. Nevermind that your mouth was covered with grease from your French fries and crumbs from the Whopper you undoubtedly wolfed down. That should have ended our conversation, especially when you saw me look back at my magazine after telling you it was 12:40.

What about that event gave you the impression that I still wanted to talk? Did you think I cared that you don't have a watch? Well, that you do have a watch but it's 25 minutes fast? If you know it's 25 minutes fast, couldn't you just subtract that to get the time?

After each sentence, when I distractedly nodded at you and went back to my magazine, I assumed that you'd know that I didn't feel up to talking with a complete stranger. Especially a stranger who didn't know enough to use a napkin to wipe his mouth before initiating conversations with innocent bystanders.

But you kept going. You had to inform me that you couldn't set your watch back. (Me: "Mmm, hmm," and looking back at my magazine.) You felt it was important that I know that you had a cheap watch. (Me: Nodding, and looking back at my magazine.) And that that was why you had to ask me. Yeah, I got it. Can I please finish my lunch so that I leave?

I got a little nervous when you got up when I did, and walked over to the soda fountain to fill up your drink, the same as me. But you went on your way, and I went mine. I saw you wandering through the parking lot as I left to go back to work. Looking for another victim to ask for the time, I assume.

I guess this post was kind of bitchy, but if you know me, you know not to bug me when I haven't eaten! My husband will certainly agree that I can be a bit of a Mr. Hyde. But I turn back to a lovable Dr. Jekyll once my tummy is full. Maybe that guy should have waited until 12:45 to ask for the time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Where do they find these people?

I'm off today. Not really a vacation since I'm spending the day (except for this moment to post) doing some major cleaning of the house before the 20-some-odd people convene at our house for the Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. Actually, despite all the cleaning, it's been kind of nice being in a quiet house: no kids screaming because they can't have a cookie, that someone is taking their toy, or they're not allowed to crawl into the fireplace. No constant banter of: mommy, mommy, mommy ... but, mommy why? ... but, but, but ... I can eat when I'm hungry, finish a chore without having to run to the shouts of someone in pain, or watch a show uninterrupted on TV.

Like People's Court. Besides Judge Judy, there is no better show on daytime television. Just watching the loser who sues for $300 over some earrings he bought his girlfriend before she broke up with him, or the bad hair-dye job that caused the woman to miss two weeks of work, or the couple who keeps renting out a room in their house and ends up getting in a fight with the tenants, three times (as was the case today).

I love watching the judges in both of these shows because they have no tolerance for stupid people, like me (wait, I'm not stupid ... I just have no tolerance for stupid people). I'll be sitting on the couch saying, "But why did you go back three times if you hate the way they do your hair?!" "Why do you think you're not responsible if your pitbull bit some kid's face off and you didn't have it on a leash?!" "Why would you buy a cellphone for a guy you knew for a week?!" It's amazing to me the number of lawsuits there are about unpaid cell phone bills for hundreds of dollars. Who talks that much on the phone? Get a better calling plan!

The judges ask the same thing (not about the calling plan, but the same questions I've asked) and then give them a wicked tongue-lashing. (See, Em? I knew I could work the word "wicked" into my vocabulary at some point. Does that mean I'm getting cooler?) Part of me, after watching these shows, loses a little faith in humanity, at the idiocy of our society. Part of me feels just a bit better about myself. That no matter how hard my day was, how insecure I may get about my looks, how much guilt I feel at not being the perfect mom, I realize that I'm way better off than these people.

So now I need to get back to work, and getting ready to cook for tomorrow. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tales from a weekend in sin city

My husband and I just got back from a weekend in Las Vegas. We're not high rollers, so we stayed in a small casino on the Strip. It's more our style: low-stake tables, cheap beer, and non-pretentious people to meet as we gamble the night away. Here are a few highlights from the trip:

When we checked in, we were told that we were being upgraded to a suite. Nice, we thought, thinking we were going to get a pretty sweet room. Despite the smallness of the casino, I've always thought the rooms were very quaint: Dark-wood four-poster beds, velvet comforters, antique-looking chairs and tables. So I imagined the suite being just more of the same. Boy was I wrong. The suite looked like the setting of some 80s porn movie.

We walked in and the wall to our right was painted a dark red. Don't get me wrong, I like rooms that are painted a deep red, like a small bathroom or cozy breakfast nook, when it's complimented by neutral colors. This was a dark shiny red that looked tacky against the black leather couches and chairs, and black-white-and-red pictures that were reminiscent of the Nagel posters of the 80s. The best part was the black marble jacuzzi bathtub that sat right next to the couch. Who takes a bath in the middle of the living room? Porn stars and rock stars I'd say. The steps to the jacuzzi tub had little lights running along the length of them, just like the pedestal that held up our bed. Our bed was a shiny black laquer with mirrors on the wall.

The only good thing is that the room had two bathrooms, which made it much more efficient for us to get ready. Yesterday, when we left, I got out of the shower and went to the other bathroom to put on my make up. "Hello," I heard as I rounded the corner. There was my husband, sitting in a bubble bath. "How is it?" I asked. "I feel like an idiot," he replied. "I mean, I'm taking a bath in the middle of the living room!" Steven Tyler he is not. He discovered another flaw as he got out. Black shiny marble is very slippery, not a good combination with a bathtub.

Vegas reminds me a lot of New Orleans, in the fact that when you go out, you never meet the locals. You always meet people who are visiting from somewhere else. So they're much more likely to talk to you than someone hanging out in a local bar in your hometown. I met so many nice people.

- The card whiz who sat down at the Pai Gow table and laid a $100 bill on the line. In the hour that he was there, he won $1,000. He looked over at my cards at one point, and in the space of .25 seconds, he saw that I had a flush and told me what I should lay down. He was right.
- The mid-50s lady who looked to me for help as some mid-50s guy very blatantly hit on her, despite the wedding band on her hand. She was from Michigan, and was watching the game to see if she could see her son who went to school there.
- The couple from Baton Rouge who said their town population had doubled since Hurricane Katrina. They had been vacationing in Vegas for a week. The girl said her brother was with her; a virtual Rainman who was good at counting cards and betting on games.
- The computer nerds from North Carolina who ragged on each other right and left and gave "air high fives" to all of us when we got a good hand.
- The Hayden Church look alike and sound alike from Alaska. He was actually a lot younger than Hayden Church is now, more like his days as Lowell on Wings. His deep voice hid his sensitivity as he made an origami duck out of the money that he gave to the dealer as a tip.

I could have done without the loser from San Antonio, Texas, who sat next to me at the Roulette table and insisted on telling me how hot I was every five minutes. Nevermind the fact that my husband was sitting next to me, and the guy's wife was at the next table. I'm not one to make a scene, especially when you have no idea what the other person is capable of, but I have to say that the guy was a complete grasshole (a great word from a book I'm reading called a Million Pieces ... a guy in the book is trying to stop swearing so he uses words like feckhead, grasshole, and ducksucker.)

There's a little town on the way to Vegas called Barstow. It's a town where tourists stop to use the restroom, fill up on gas, or grab a bite to it. That's all there is to the town. I'm sure people actually live there, but I can't imagine why. My husband thinks a great idea for a reality show would be to just have a camera at this one weird food place in Barstow. It's actually some converted train cars, and is basically like a food court without the mall. There are souvenir stands that sell items like key chains, vintage figurines, T-shirts, etc. And you can get food from Panda Express, McDonalds, Quiznos, whatever your heart desires, while eating on a train going nowhere.

But the people there are even better than the place. Walking up from the parking lot, we saw a woman in her mid-60s with red spandex biker shorts, a big white sweatshirt, hair teased out to there, and bright orangish-pink lipstick with a white-powdered face. Very scary and a little like "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" if you ask me. We also saw a guy get into his company van. The company? Blunt Out Air Freshener. So I'm thinking he's pretty bold to drive around in a van that advertises getting the smell of pot out of your car. I wonder how many times he's gotten picked up. Could it be a joke?

Of course we love our kids, but it's always nice to get away to spend some quality time together. We played "What's your favorite ..." and "Name that tune ... " (I won) on the four-hour drive up. We held hands, laughed a lot, had a real conversation over dinner, and just enjoyed a closeness that we don't always get at home.

Now we head into the holiday season, and I know we're going to be busy and forget to make time for each other. We have to do more of these weekends alone more often.